Jury verdict: Android doesn't infringe Oracle's patents

The decision in the long-running case came as vindication for Google in its bitter battle with Oracle over Android.

Google, Oracle trial

SAN FRANCISCO--A jury today unanimously decided that Google did not infringe on two of Oracle's patents.

In the decision at the U.S. District Court of Northern California, the jury in the trial said Google did not infringe on six claims in U.S. Patent No. RE38,104 as well as two claims in U.S. Patent No. 6,061,520.

The verdict is a win for Google, and marks the end of the trial's second phase, which focused on the claims of patent infringement. Closing arguments in the case were made last week. After the decision, a third phase -- centering on damages -- was canceled.

Following the verdict, Judge William Alsup of the U.S. District Court of Northern California dismissed the jurors, while noting that it was the longest civil trial he had been a part of. Alsup also noted that he'd be deciding a related copyright issue within the case, which remains unresolved. In the copyright phase of the trial, the jury returned a partial verdict, mostly in favor of Oracle.

"Today's jury verdict that Android does not infringe Oracle's patents was a victory not just for Google but the entire Android ecosystem," Google said in a statement.

"Oracle presented overwhelming evidence at trial that Google knew it would fragment and damage Java," Oracle spokeswoman Deborah Hellinger told Bloomberg in an e-mailed statement. "We plan to continue to defend and uphold Java's core write once run anywhere principle and ensure it is protected for the nine million Java developers and the community that depend on Java compatibility."

Today's proceedings began much like they did earlier in the week, with a technical question from the jury about an Oracle patent.

In particular, the jury wanted to know the legal interpretation of the words "simulating execution of the code," made within U.S. Patent No. 6,061,520, one of seven Oracle patents named in the original suit that covers "method and system for performing static initialization."

Alsup asked Oracle's counsel to answer that question, which led to Oracle's counsel asking for a five-minute huddle with Google's legal team to hammer out an answer.

When the judge returned, the two sides suggested that the jury might have been referring to one of two claims made within different sections of the patent. Alsup concurred, and brought the jury back into the courtroom to lay out how the question could reference either claim 1 or claim 20 from the patent, and how it needed to be more specific when asking such questions, adding that he wasn't "100 percent sure" he had answered their original query.

Nonetheless, Alsup said the jury was "right on target" for asking the meaning of the phrase because it was a legal question. He then sent the jury back to deliberations and said they were welcome to submit additional queries. A verdict arrived approximately half an hour later.

The questions were the latest from jurors about the linguistical complexity found in Oracle's patents. Earlier this week, jurors asked similar technical question about U.S. Patent No. RE38,104, and before that it was terminology and differences in U.S. Patent No. 6,061,520. That included a re-reading of transcripts of court testimony.

Oracle sued Google in 2010, alleging that Google's Android operating system infringed on a Java patent acquired with the purchase of Sun Microsystems. Google responded by claiming the Android team was unaware of Sun's patents ahead of the suit, and that its OS was free to use.

The proceedings will resume on Tuesday morning next week, following a break for the Memorial Day holiday.

Here's the verdict form:

Updated at 12:40 p.m. PT with comment from Oracle.

 

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